congelical











{November 17, 2010}   NaNoWriMo 2010 – Day 17

Sophie sat in her room, unsure of what to do. She thought about calling James, but had no idea what to say. Would he understand? Could anyone understand what was happening in her life right now?
She’d been vague at dinner when her parents had asked her about her day. She’d told them about the tea and biscuits and about Douglas. She hadn’t said what they’d talked about, or mentioned any of the fantastical things that she was still getting to grips with. She held the necklace Bob had given in her hand and looked at it. It looked like nothing out of the ordinary. The chain looked like any other plain silver chain. The stone was small and pink. It didn’t appear to be cut in any spectacular way. It was mostly transparent, but had a slight cloudiness at the edges. She found it hard to believe that something so small could do such fantastical things.
She thought about Douglas and his lust for adventure. He’d persuaded her so easily that she should go looking for her mother. Did she really want to? She certainly wanted to meet her, but it could wait, couldn’t it? She didn’t need to go off looking for her. But then again, she knew she wouldn’t be satisfied just sitting around waiting for her to appear.
So, it would seem she was set on having an adventure. But where to start? She hoped Bob would be able to give her some clues. He knew her mother better than she did. But he doesn’t actually know where she is for definite. There’d still be a lot of searching involved. And then, how would she recognise her mother? She assumed Bob would have a picture or something, but even that might not be much help.
And then, what would her mother’s reaction be if she found her? Would she be pleased to see her? Or would she cast her off as a burden, like she had done when Sophie was born? Sophie wasn’t sure how she would react to meeting her mother. She wasn’t sure if she should be angry with her for abandoning her.
Sophie’s mind was a little ball of confusion. She jumped off her bed and threw open her wardrobe doors. She rummaged through some loose boxes stacked at the bottom for a few minutes before finally turning up what she had been looking for. She climbed into bed and pulled the duvet up tight around her shoulders. She cuddled tight the little green bear that her father had given her before she could even remember.
More than anything, she wanted everything to go back to normal. She wanted things to be simple again. The morning of her birthday, she’d looked herself in the mirror and told herself that she was a grown-up now and should only give attention to grown-up things. She wanted to deny that now. Being grown-up was definitely too hard for her.
Why couldn’t she be like everyone else? No one else has to deal with this kind of thing. Even other people who find out they’re adopted. They just discover they were the product of drunken slutty teenagers or they were saved from neglectful alcoholics or something. They don’t discover that their parents are magical beings that are older than history. When other people’s parents split up, they usually just live in separate houses, maybe one of them in a different part of the country. James’ dad lives in Wolverhampton! If anyone needs to find someone, they just look them up on the Internet. They don’t have to go chasing ‘round the world after them.
Sophie stared out at the world from under her duvet, clutching her little green bear to her chest. She’d lost the momentum she’d had for the last few days and everything was finally getting to her. She’d let too much stuff just wash over her and now she was drowning. Suddenly, everything that had happened over the last few days was flooding her mind and demanding her attention. Friendly foxes and talking cats were dancing in her imagination, while Bob sat in the background and talked nonsense about other dimensions. An imaginary image of her mother was forming in her mind. It wasn’t clear an, try as she may, Sophie couldn’t bring her into focus. Her mother was calling to her. Sophie could understand her own name, but couldn’t make out what else she was saying.
Sophie’s eyes opened and she was awake. The bedside light was still on and she was still holding the bear tight. She was sweating in the warmth of the June night and the duvet was only adding to her discomfort. She pushed it off herself and sat up. She looked at the clock, it was 1am. She sat the bear on her pillow and rubbed her eyes. This was not healthy. Maybe she’d be able to handle all this stuff if she could get a decent night’s sleep.
She got up and walked to he window, looking out at the dark garden. She half-hoped to see a fox sat on the porch, but it was empty and dark, as it was most nights. The trees were moving slightly, probably due to a light breeze. Sophie thought about going down to the kitchen to garb something to eat, but she decided against it.
She stepped away from the window and went to sit at her dressing table. She looked in the mirror at her reflection. She could see the sleep in her eyes. She stared at her reflecton for a while, thinking about what Bob had said about being able to control her body completely. Her mind began to wander until it hit upon a thought that intrigued her. She concentrated on it and looked hard at the mirror. Nothing happened for a short while, until suddenly, in a barely perceptible way, she saw the sleep patina leaving her eyes. They become fresher and she felt like it wasn’t 1am. It felt more like midday on a weekend and she felt completely rested.
Sophie sat back, astonished at what she’d done. She pulled the necklace out from under her top and looked at it. The cloudiness was no longer confined to the edges, it now appeared to be moving. Ever so slowly, it was swimming across the centre of the crystal.
She looked to the mirror again and concentrated harder. Her hair begin to drip. Splashes of pink dye appeared on the dressing table and drops ran down her top, staining it in a streaky pink pattern. Gradually, flowing from root to tip, her hair turned back to its natural blonde colour. Sophie swore at her reflection in the mirror and mused about how pleased her mother would be.
She tried again, concentrating once more, glaring at her reflection. She watched as the blonde of her hair reddened, turning first to ginger and then moving through to a vibrant red. She stopped for a moment, admiring how she looked with red hair. She filed that image away for later consideration and moved on. She faded the red to pink and then watched it get brighter until she was happy with it.
Anyone looking at her now wouldn’t be able to tell the difference from when she had started, except for the dye-stained top she was wearing. Her hair was the same colour it usually was. Sophie smiled at her reflection and had a small laugh about how she’d never have to bother touching up her roots again and how much money she’d save on dye.
She wondered what else she could do. She thought about Bob and his beard and crazy hair. She thought about how he’d let himself get old. She thought about the possibility of immortality. Did she want that? Did she want to live so long that she left everything else behind? She thought about Douglas. About how Bob had needed a companion. But Douglas wouldn’t be around for ever. He’d live longer than any other normal cat, but it would be a mere blink of an eye compared to Bob’s life. Is that what human life would be like to her? Would James be gone in a blink of an eye, while she stayed young forever? What good was goddamn pink hair if you lost all your friends?
She stood up and pulled the dye-stained top off herself and threw it in the bin. She looked down at her breasts in her padded bra. She thought about what she’d just done to her hair and wondered what else she could do. Could she change her body completely? Did she want to? And then, what would her identity be? She dismissed the thought. She didn’t want to stop being her. Too much had happened in the last few days that was challenging all she thought she’d known about who she was. She wanted to hold on to as much of her identity as she could. Her breasts were small, but they were hers, and she was was keeping them.
Sophie grabbed an old long-sleeved t-shirt from on top of a pile of clean clothes her mum had left in her room. She pulled it on and looked down at the faded design on the front. It was of a giant humanoid robot flying and firing lasers. She’d borrowed it from James months ago and had never managed to give it back. She smiled, remembering how she’d gone round to his house and then discovered, upon setting out to go home, that it was a lot colder than when she’d come over and she didn’t have a jacket. James had pulled out this old t-shirt and she’d pulled it on over what she’d been wearing. It almost reached her knees and the sleeves ended a good couple of inches after her hands did.
She sat down on her bed and grabbed the book that was sat waiting on her bedside table. She hadn’t read any of it since the day when she’d been sat by the church. It all seemed so long ago, back before she knew who Bob was. Back when he just seemed to be some crazy guy stealing her crisps. She opened the book and slid her bookmark out of its place between the pages. She’d finished the book by the time the sun came up.

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{November 16, 2010}   NaNoWriMo 2010 – Day 16

Sophie arrived at the church at about half past 2 and wasn’t sure what to do next. She was unsure if she was meant to go into the church or not, so she opted to just wander ‘round the grounds for a bit. She considered sitting on the bench where she’d originally met Bob, but she was feeling too agitated to sit down.
She wandered aimlessly along the path that led around the church towards the graveyard. She didn’t want to go into the graveyard though. Her and James had had a frightening experience there when they were kids. It turned out to just be a fox, but she still felt uneasy being there. She thought about the fox she’d seen last night and wondered if it had been the same one. It was pretty unlikely, but she was sure stranger coincidences had happened.
She had only been there a few minutes and was busying herself by reading the dedication plaque for possibly the hundredth time, when there was a cough behind her. She turned to look into the face of Bob.
“Hello, dear.” He beamed.
“Hello, Bob.” Sophie looked at him. He was still looking fairly unkempt and crazy. Still wearing the same robe and sandals. “I wasn’t sure if I was meant to go in.”
“Ah, yes. Well, it didn’t matter really. I knew you were here anyway.”
“Oh yes? How exactly?”
“I felt your presence, obviously.” He shrugged, as if psychic ability were no big deal.
“Oh, how very Star Wars…” Sophie looked at him and wondered if it were true. And if so, how much else could he “feel”? “Shall we get on with this, then?”
“Of course, of course! Let’s go inside.” He beckoned her to follow him as he turned to walk towards the church entrance.
“You live in the church?” Sophie asked, looking up at the building.
“Sort of. It’s more of a case of the church living in my home.”
“Of course it does. I can see your house all around it.” Sophie replied, sarcasticly.
Bob opened the door of the church and gestured for her to go first. “I don’t usually use the front door, but you’d probably have trouble walking through the wall.”
Sophie let that one slide. She couldn’t be bothered to question things any more. She had a feeling that stranger things would be said before the day was over. She stepped inside and wandered through the foyer and into the main hall of the church. She looked around, taking an interest in the architecture and other features. She hadn’t been here since she was a little girl.
“Lovely building, isn’t it?” Bob asked, walking up behind Sophie.
“Yes.” She said, turning to look at him. “I wish I could live here.”
“It’s rather good, although the services can be a bit of a nuisance.” He smiled at his mild attempt at humour.
“I suppose.” Sophie smiled back. “Where exactly is your “home” then? I just see church as far as the eye can see…”
“Oh, well, it’s right… here.” As Bob said the word “here”, he raised his hand and turned it, as if rotating some unseen dial in mid-air. Sophie heard a click and the church was gone and she found herself in a hallway. It looked like it hadn’t changed for several hundred years.
“What the…? Where did…? How?!” Sophie managed.
“Separate dimensions. It’s all very simple when you know how.” Bob gave her a smug look. “Shall we go through to the living room?” He opened a door to their left and gave an overt bow as she stepped past him to go inside.
The living room gave off a similar vibe to the hallway, except it was far more cluttered. The walls of the room were unseen behind shelves upon shelves containing random objects, most of which Sophie couldn’t identify.
“You have a lot of… stuff.” She said, resisting the urge to investigate.
“More than you can imagine.” Bob replied. “I’ve got whole rooms packed full of stuff. I’ve lost count of them over the years. I’ve forgotten where I put some of them!”
“You’ve forgotten where you’ve put rooms of your house?”
“Uh, yes.” Bob shrugged. “My memory’s not as good as it used to be and stacking dimensions on top of each other is always such a messy business. You know how it is.”
“Can’t say that I do.” Sophie looked around the room. “So, are we still in the church?”
“Yes and no.” Bob replied. “We’re in the space the church would occupy if it were here.”
“And where exactly is here?”
“Not sure really. It’s an artificial dimension, so this place is the only thing in it, but I couldn’t really say where we exist, to be honest.”
“And I suppose I’m stuck here, then? I mean, it doesn’t sound like I could just walk out whenever I wanted to.”
“Oh, I suppose not.” Bob looked worried. “I’m not really used to having people here who don’t have a key. I’ll sort you out a copy, if you like.”
“That would do, I suppose.”
“You have a sit and I’ll go and see what I can do.” He gestured to a rather tatty leather armchair. It didn’t look too inviting, but when Sophie sat down, she found it to be unbelievably comfortable. “I’ll see if Douglas is about to keep you company.” He turned and called out into the hallway.
Sophie was about to ask who Douglas was, when a door opened on the other side of the room and a small grey cat strolled in and sat down in front of her chair, looking up at her.
“Ah, there you are, Douglas.” Bob said, “Say hello to our guest, why don’t you.”
Douglas looked at Sophie and mewed a few times. She smiled, somewhat confused by such a well-trained cat.
“Oh! You can’t understand him, can you?” Bob looked flustered. “I’ll have to sort that out for you too. Anyway, he said he’s very pleased to meet you and…” Bob gave Douglas a stern look, “and he asked if you have any tuna.”
“Uh, I’m afraid not. Sorry.” Sophie smiled at Douglas. He hung his head and mewed softly.
“Language, Douglas!” Bob exclaimed. “Now, you look after Sophie while I go and sort these things out for her.” With that, he disappeared off into the hallway. Leaving Sophie alone with an apparently hyper-intelligent cat.
“Um, so you’re Douglas?” Sophie ventured.
Douglas nodded.
“Wow!” Sophie was rather taken aback. “You really can understand me! But you can’t talk, right?”
Douglas shook his head.
“Hmmm, but Bob seems to understand you.” Sophie frowned. “Can he speak cat?”
Douglas raised a paw and wiggled it, indicating that this was only sort of the case.
“Oh, so he can only understand you?”
Douglas nodded again.
“How strange. Um…”
Douglas looked at her expectantly.
“Do you like being petted?” Sophie asked, gingerly.
Douglas nodded once more, this time with vigour. Within seconds, he was on Sophie’s lap and she was stroking him and scratching behind his ears while he purred contentedly. Sophie sat, wondering about what else she could ask this wonder-cat. Obviously yes, no, or maybe was the best he’d be able to do until Bob came back.
“Is Bob mad?” She asked.
Douglas did the motion with his paw again.
“Are you immortal, like him?”
Douglas shook his head.
“Oh, so are you from the same place as him?”
A shake of the head once more. Sophie frowned.
They sat mostly in silence for a while, Sophie stroking Douglas as he purred softly. The silence was finally broken by Bob’s return.
“Sorted!” He exclaimed, upon his entrance to the living room.
“What is?” Enquired Sophie, sitting forward and almost launching Douglas off her lap.
“This.” Bob held up a necklace consisting of a silver chain with a small pink crystal, about half a centimetre in diameter, hanging from it. “It’s a key to this place and a universal translator,” said Bob, clearing up some questions that Sophie had yet to ask. “and I threw in some other bits and bobs, too.”
He handed it to her and she inspected it skeptically. “How exactly does it do all that?”
“I was never very au fait with the technology itself, to be honest.” Bob replied. “I just know how to programme them.”
“And I assume I’m meant to wear it or whatever?”
“I think it works just having one about your person.”
That was Douglas. Sophie stared at him with amazement.
“From that look, I’ll assume you understand me now, which means it probably works.” Douglas smiled at her.
“You’re… you’re talking!” Sophie managed to whisper.
“Well, not really. I’m making cat sounds, just like I was earlier. It’s just that your ears are now interpreting it as human speech.”
“Is.. is this thing getting in my head?” Sophie looked somewhat scared.
“It is somewhat psychic, yes.” Bob chimed in, he had now sat in the armchair opposite Sophie. “But then, so are you. You just don’t know it yet.”
“Wow.” Sophie was dumbstruck. “I’m ready to believe anything now.”
“You’re probably best putting that on. You don’t want to lose it, do you?”
Sophie did as she was instructed. She tucked the chain beneath her top, still very aware of what it was doing inside her head. “Do you have one of these then?”
“Oh yes. Mine’s in my watch though.” Bob pulled up his sleeve and flashed an ancient looking analogue watch at her. “Douglas has one on his collar too.”
Douglas sat up and proudly showed off his collar.
“Very nice.” Sophie smiled at him and scratched him lightly behind the ear. She couldn’t help but notice that instead of hearing him purr, he now seemed to be saying a long, drawn out “oh yeah”.
“So, you were wanting to know some things?” Bob looked at her expectantly.
“Yes. Yes, I was. I’m not sure what to ask now though.” Sophie thought for a moment. “I’ll start with something easy, what’s the deal with Douglas?”
“The deal with him? I’m not sure what you mean.”
“I mean, why can you talk to him but not other cats. It’s not just the translator, right?”
“Ah, I see. No, it’s not just the translator. As I said, the crystals are programmable. His makes him a lot cleverer than normal cats.”
“If you tried talking to any other cat, you’d get rather simplistic thoughts.” Douglas chimed in. “Believe me, it drives me nuts!”
“But without it, you’re just a normal cat?”
“More or less.” Bob replied. “I’ve genetically altered him as far as I can, but the intelligence requires the crystal.”
“I told you I’m not immortal like Bob, but I’m going to live a hell of a lot longer than most cats. I already have lived longer than some.”
“Oh yes? How old are you then?” Asked Sophie.
“15. Bob got me just after he gave you up.”
“Speaking of which, am I your only child?” Sophie gave Bob a stern look.
“Oh yes. No brothers or sisters for you.” Bob smiled back, seemingly not noticing the glare he was supposed to be withering under.
“So, it took you about 3 million years to have kids?”
“Yes. I know it sounds a bit strange, but neither myself or your mother had ever wanted kids. And I seem to remember there being some practical reason for it. Not sure what it was now though.”
“So, what changed?”
“I’ve no idea.” Bob frowned. “The first I knew of it was when your mother informed me that she was pregnant. She’d returned from places unknown full of strange ideas that she’d never had before. I hadn’t seen her for over a hundred years and suddenly she’s back and claiming I got her pregnant the last time she was here. It was a bit of a shock, to be honest.”
“Wait, she was pregnant with me for over a hundred years?”
“Yes, I suppose she was.” Sophie gave him a confused look. “We can do that, you see, control every aspect of our physical existence. She just put you on pause for a while, as it were.”
“Until she was ready to come back and give birth to me?”
“Yes.”
“Ok, go back a bit. You say you can control everything your body does?”
“I can. As can your mother. As you’ll be able to.”
“I can do it too? Since when?!”
“Oh, since birth. You just don’t know it yet. It’s why we’re immortal, you know. We just stop the aging process. And any kind of wound, we can heal up right away.”
“But you’ve gotten old? How exactly does that work?”
“Oh, I let that happen. Did it several centuries back. I was going for the kind of ‘wise old sage’ look that was popular back then. Unfortunately, you can’t really reverse it. Your mother looks a lot younger than I do. At least she did when I last saw her.”
“Wow.” Sophie shook her head, as if she were trying to file all this new information away via kinetic energy. “And you’re saying I can do this too?”
“Oh, certainly. You’re probably already doing it subconsciously. That’s why you’re so thin despite all the junk you do. And you’ve even managed to change your hair colour!”
“I dyed it this colour.”
“Oh, never mind then. But yes, you can do it. It’s just a case of practicing. You start with the little things and work your way up. Same with your psychic ability.”
“My what? I’m psychic?”
“Oh yes, of course. That’s the basis of the whole ‘controlling your body’ part.”
“I should start a chat line…” Sophie muttered. “Ok, let’s come back to that later. How exactly do you –I mean, we– have these powers? Are you human? Am I human?”
“Um, the best I can do is ‘humanish’. I’m not really sure myself.”
“What do you mean?”
“I can’t remembered.” Bob frowned. “I messed up with the aging, you see. I let my memory degrade a bit and lost a few things. Mostly the really early stuff like who we are and where we came from.”
“So, what do you remember?”
“I know we came from somewhere else. I’m not sure where or what it was. I don’t think it was another planet. I think it might have been another dimension. Or perhaps the future. I think we’re sort of a step on from what you would call ‘humans’. We’ve definitely got abilities they haven’t and technology they could only dream of. I’ve never really checked to see if the similarities are coincidental or otherwise. As to what you are, you’re the child of your mother and I. You’re the same as us, but you were raised by humans so you don’t know it yet. Your body doesn’t quite know what it can do yet.”
“I’m like Superman but I’ve yet to learn to fly.” Sophie said, wide-eyed.
“Uh, we can’t fly…”
“I was being metaphorical.”
“Oh, right…”
“You’d understand if you watched TV, Bob.” Until he had said this, Sophie had assumed Douglas was asleep on her lap. His eyes were still closed.
“Oh, that thing! I’ll get around to it one day. I’ve got so many books to read first.”
“Whatever.” Douglas opened his eyes and looked at Sophie. “I think your mother would be a slightly more reliable source of information than him.”
“Really?” Sophie asked.
“Definitely. Like Bob said, she hasn’t gotten old. Her memory is probably still intact. Probably a lot less mad, too.”
“Oh hush, Douglas! She doesn’t need her head filling with rubbish about her mother.” Bob folded his arms and sat back in his chair. “She’s my daughter. That… woman just abandoned her. She doesn’t need her.”
“Um, surely that should be for me to decide?” Sophie gave Bob a look that said it was no use arguing.
“Oh, damnit!” Bob threw up his arms in exasperation. “You decide then. You decide if you want to go chasing after her and see where it gets you. Then you’ll come wandering back her and expecting a cup of tea and a biscuit like nothing’s happened.”
“Why would I expect a cup of tea and a biscuit? You’ve never given me one before…”
“Haven’t I?” Bob was suddenly subdued. “Oh dear, how could I have done that? I’ll just sort that out for you.” He bustled off out of the door that Douglas had entered through. He reappeared a few seconds later. “How do you take your tea, dear?”
“Milk. Strong. Two sugars.” Sophie replied.
“Ginger biscuits Ok?”
“Lovely.”
There came a cough from Douglas. Sophie was surprised, she’d been previously unaware that cats could do such a thing.
“Yes, yes, Douglas, I’ll make one for you too. Don’t you worry.” He disappeared again and Sophie was alone with Douglas. She looked down at him.
“What was that about?”
“What do you mean?” Douglas gave her a look of perfect innocence.
“You know what I mean. You want me to go and find my mother. Why? You don’t even know her!”
Douglas sighed. “Alright, yes, I want you to find her.”
“Why?”
“Because I want to go with you. I want an adventure!”
“Don’t you like it here?”
“Oh, very much. But I’ve been here for almost my entire life. I need a change.”
“So, why not just go somewhere on your own? Why do you need me?”
“Because Bob wouldn’t understand. I’m his only companion and I couldn’t leave him for my own selfish reasons. He’d understand if I went somewhere with you.”
“But why to find my mother? Couldn’t we go with something similar? Just take a holiday, or something…”
“Because that’s what you want to do and you know it. Plus, if we find her, we can bring her back here. Then I can do whatever I like, without fear of Bob getting lonely.”
“Hmmm. What a cunning little cat you are.” Sophie smiled at him.
“Is that a yes? Are we going?” Douglas sat up and looked at her expectantly.
“We’ll see. I haven’t decided what I want to do yet. And even if I did want to go and find her, I’d have no idea where to start.”
“Oh, it’d be easier than you think. And Bob could be at least some help, despite his memory.”
“We’ll see, little kitty cat. We’ll see.”
“If you weren’t a cute little 16 year-old girl, I’d claw your face off for calling me that.” Douglas looked at her pointedly, but the look melted when she gave him a good scratch behind his left ear.

Bob reappeared with a tray laden with two mugs and Douglas’ cup and a plate of ginger biscuits. He placed it on the small coffee table between the chairs before handing one of the mugs to Sophie. She accepted it gratefully and then picked a biscuit from the plate. Douglas jumped down from her lap and made his way to settle on the footstool that would allow him to have his tea.
“I didn’t know cats drank tea.” Sophie said, smiling at Douglas and his little cup.
“We don’t usually.” Douglas replied. “But he kept insisting on making me one and it eventually grew on me. Has to be very milky though. And no sugar.”
“I see.” Sophie sipped her tea thoughtfully. “Tell me about my mother, Bob.”
“Hmmm.” Bob frowned. “She’s a remarkable woman. And we’ve always been very much in love.”
“So, why did she leave?” Sophie cringed at her own lack of tact. “Sorry.”
“It’s Ok.” Bob gave her a forced smile. “I suppose she got bored, really. As I said, I let myself get old and when you get old, your way of thinking changes a bit. You don’t want to be moving all over the place and doing all this… stuff. You want things to stay in one place and not change. That’s why I’m so out of touch these days.”
“And she didn’t want to stay here?”
“No. She wanted to carry on like we always had, exploring the world and experiencing every new thing we could get our hands on. She stayed for a while, but I could tell her heart wasn’t in it. She just had to get out.”
“But she visits you, doesn’t she?”
“Oh yes, every now and then. They’ve been getting sparser though. She visited every few weeks back at the start. But weeks grew into months, which grew into years, which grew into centuries. The last time was when you were born, but before than was centuries ago. I wouldn’t be expecting her back anytime soon if it weren’t for you.”
“Why would she come back for me now? She wasn’t around while I was growing up.”
“She’d want to take you with her. You probably inherited her taste for adventure. Before now you were too young, you’d just hamper her.”
“So she decided not to see me at all?” Sophie was angry now.
“Yes. Don’t be too harsh on her. I think she was trying to make things easy. There’d be too much to explain otherwise. She made a hard choice, just like I did when I gave you up.”
“Did she know about that?”
“I don’t know. Probably. She probably knew where you were too.”
“I thought you were trying to hide me from her?”
“I was, but it wasn’t going to ever be perfect. I just needed you to be somewhere where she couldn’t drop in on a whim and whisk you away whenever she wanted. If you’d been here, there’d have been nothing to stop her.”
“What about you?”
“I couldn’t have said no to her. I’ve always done whatever she wanted. When she wanted to go, she did, because there was no resistance from me. She didn’t need to discuss getting pregnant with me because she knew I wouldn’t deny her what she wanted.”
“You’re a bit crap aren’t you?”
“I suppose I am. Sorry about that.” Bob looked deflated and almost on the verge of tears.
“I was joking.” Sophie smiled at him. “Look at it this way, if you weren’t, I wouldn’t be here. So I’m thankful.”
“I suppose…”
They all sat in silence for a while, sipping their tea. Sophie leaned forward and took another biscuit, munching on it while looking thoughtful. She watched Douglas lapping at his tea. after a couple of seconds, he seemed to notice her gaze and looked up at her. She smiled at him before turning back to her own mug. She finished the biscuit and her tea and set the mug down on tray. She stood up and dusted biscuit crumbs off her lap.
“I think I need to meet my mother.” She announced.
“I should have expected such.” Bob murmured. “I’m not sure why I thought I’d be able to stop you. There’s no point in me even trying.”
“Sorry, but it’s just something I feel I need to do. I can’t just sit around and wait for her to appear.”
“I suppose…” Bob looked as if he were trying to merge into the chair he was sat on.
“I’ll need help though.” Sophie looked at him expectantly.
“What? Oh, I see.” Bob sat up. “Well, I suppose there’s some stuff lying around this place that could give you some clues as to where she is. I found some of her diaries for you last nigh…”
“Oh. I was hoping you might want to come with me?”
“Oh no. I’m perfectly fine where I am, thankyouverymuch. Adventures are not my thing any more.”
“Oh, then, er…” There was a small cat-like clearing of a throat. Sophie rolled her eyes, “Could Douglas come instead?”
“Douglas?” Bob frowned. “I don’t see why not. Is that your kind of thing, Dougy? Would you want to go off adventuring with young Sophie?”
“I suppose I could tag along. Make sure she doesn’t get lost and all that.” Douglas’ face was the picture of altruistic innocence.
“Oh, only if you’re sure. I wouldn’t want to drag you away from your home.” Sophie’s voice was dripping with sarcasm. Bob seemed oblivious.
“Don’t be silly! I’d do anything for the daughter of my best friend!” Douglas was laying it on like he was going for an Oscar.
“That’s settled then!” Bob beamed. “You’ll be in very good hands, –er, paws– my dear.”
“I’m sure I will.” Sophie smiled and then checked her watch. “Wow, I should probably be getting home for dinner…”
“Oh! Yes…” Bob looked sheepish. “You wouldn’t want dinner here then?”
“Mum’s probably already cooked it, sorry.” Sophie gave Bob an apologetic look. “Not that it hasn’t been lovely to visit. I’ll definitely be back soon.”
“Really? Oh, good good. Before you come back, I’ll sort you out with some things that should help you find your mother. There’s bound to be all kinds of stuff lying around this place that you’d find useful.”
“And a hell of a lot of things you’d find very useless…” Douglas muttered under his breath.
“So, exactly how does this key thing work? I mean, you did that thing with your hand when we came in…”
“Ah yes. It’s thought controlled really, you just need a very direct thought about going somewhere and it’ll do the shift for you. The hand gesture was just for show.”
“What if there’s people in the church? Won’t they notice if I appear out of nowhere?”
“The psychic field kind of smooths that out. Makes them think you just walked in from somewhere or whatever. They explain it away quite happily.”
“Well then, I think I’d best be off. Thank you for the tea and biscuits and the lovely hospitality, Bob. And it was very nice to meet you, Douglas. Um…”
And with that, she was back in the hall of the church. There was thankfully no one around to ask awkward questions. She really wasn’t quite sure everything would work exactly as Bob had said it would. She stepped out of the pew she found herself in and walked slowly back to the entrance. She stepped through the great front doors and out into the cool evening air.
“Well,” she said to herself, “a cat’s just persuaded you to go off to who knows where to find a mother you didn’t know you had a few days ago. Would you like another slice of strange with your tea, or will that do for today?”

Bob slumped down in to his old armchair, feeling defeated. “She’s leaving me, Douglas.”
“I know.” Douglas replied.
“And you’re encouraging her!”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Bob.” Douglas was avoiding Bob’s gaze, pretending he was exceptionally interested in his left, front paw.
“Yes you do. I may not have heard everything you two said while I was in the kitchen, but I definitely got the gist. And anyway, I can read both your thoughts pretty damn clearly. I must teach her to suppress them…”
Douglas hung his head. “Sorry” was about all he managed to come back with.
“It’s Ok.” Bob gave him a weary smile. “I doubt she needed much encouragement, to be honest. And I do understand how you’re feeling. A change of scenery can do one the world of good. You’re welcome to your adventure.”
“Thank you.” Douglas was beaming now. “I’m really quite excited!”
“Of course you are, you silly old cat. I’m actually quite excited myself.”
“Oh, really?”
“Yes. It’ll be the first time I’ve gotten to eat a whole pack of salmon to myself in almost 15 years!” Bob laughed at his own joke, Douglas stuck his tongue out at the laughing old man. “Anyway, time to get some stuff together for her to take. Fancy lending me a hand?”
“I suppose so. There’s no way you’re going to be able to climb over some of the junk you’ve got stored in this place.”
As they were walking down the hallway towards doors that had remained closed for longer than Douglas had been living there, he turned to Bob.
“What exactly are you going to give her?”
“I’m not sure really.” Bob frowned. “The diaries are the only definite at the moment. And even then I think she’ll only want a couple of recent ones. Other than that, she’ll need some stuff to help her use her abilities better. She won’t be able to control them properly herself yet.”
“Didn’t you programme the crystal for all that?”
“Well, yes and no. For one, I programmed it before I knew she’d be going off to find her mother. It’s mostly programmed for everyday stuff, like the aging control and thought shielding. Second, some stuff works better as other objects. And hey, having stuff is cool!”
Douglas rolled his eyes at Bob. “Is it much further? I’ve never walked down this far before.”
“Oh, of course, silly me.” Bob stopped and bent down to pick up Douglas. “I forget that your legs notice distances. It’s a fair way, really. I think we had some of this stuff when we arrived here. We’ve never had a need for it though. Until now, that is…”
“Why’s that?”
“Well, we never had children. You don’t need teaching aids if there’s no one to teach.”
“Makes sense, I suppose.”
“And of course, we never intended to have them. So it all just got a bit buried.”
They walked on in silence. Douglas wasn’t sure how long it had been before Bob stopped at a door that he was very sure looked just like all the others.
“Here we are. I think…” Bob pulled open the door. It was dark inside until Bob made some kind of gesture outside of Douglas’ field of vision and a light came on. Douglas wasn’t quite sure where the light was. The room was just like the living room, expect it lacked the furniture.Lining the walls, shelf upon shelf was filled with objects that he assumed served some sort of purpose, but he wasn’t sure what.
“Everything’s in here, is it?”
“Well, just about. And we’ll have to take it all back to the study for programming. But the basic parts we need are here.”
“I suppose we’d better get started then.” Douglas leapt from Bob’s arms onto the nearest rack of shelves and began inspecting what he found there.



{November 14, 2010}   NaNoWriMo 2010 – Day 14

The house was empty again when Sophie woke up. She ran through the motions of getting up as if she were going to school. She immediately had a shower and was dressed and ready to head out before she even took a step downstairs. She watched some awful talk show while eating breakfast (definitely breakfast this time, as it was not much later than 10am). The show was reuniting adopted children with their biological parents. She frowned at the coincidence and then laughed at the thought of going on such a show to meet Bob. The television-viewing public was definitely not ready for Bob. She wasn’t even sure if she was ready for Bob.
Her cereal was finished and the bowl and spoon went next to the sink, as usual. The afternoon was still a few hours away, so she had some time to prepare for her meeting with Bob. She wasn’t exactly sure how she was going to do that. It wasn’t an exam or anything, there was no studying to do. Perhaps all she could do was try and relax. She thought about what she wanted from this meeting. She wanted some straight answers. Whether Bob would be able to provide such things would be another matter. Perhaps the best she could hope for would be to get as much information out of him as possible and then trying to make some sort of reasonable sense out of it.
Her phone buzzed. It was a message from James, wishing her luck. She smiled and slipped the phone back into the pocket of her shorts. She decided a walk would help clear her head a little bit. Clouds had invaded the sky today and there was a fairly decent wind making the rounds, so she would be wearing her jacket today.
After stepping out of the house, she headed in the opposite direction from where she would be heading later. She wanted to avoid the village and anyone who might be in it. Particularly mad people with whom she shared DNA. Instead she headed off in the direction of the main road, which led to other parts of the country or, slightly closer to home, a decent-sized out-of-town shopping centre.
She wasn’t heading there for any particular reason, more for the simple fact that it was somewhere to go. Maybe she’d spend her birthday money. It was a good half hour’s walk away, so she’d easily have enough time to think about things. Whether those things would be regarding this afternoon, or merely the possibility of buying a new hat, she wasn’t quite sure.
Despite the volume of traffic on the road, it wasn’t really any kind of motorway. It had pavements, so you could walk along it safely and there was even a bus lane. Sophie decided she’d probably catch the bus back home later. That would give her a bit more time for shopping. As she walked, she passed occasional clumps of small shops and various entrances to relatively new housing estates. As she neared the shopping centre, the housing estates gradually turned into warehouses and factories. they spewed out the odd strange smell and various metallic sounds.

Sophie arrived at the shopping centre and headed immediately for the nearest place where she could sit down and have a drink. She waited in line at a coffee shop where they used strange words for things and charged stupid prices for things she had no interest in. Sophie didn’t like coffee, so opted instead for a cup of hot chocolate and a slice of cheesecake. The hot chocolate came with whipped cream on the top. This annoyed Sophie somewhat and she opted to simply stir it into the hot chocolate, as she didn’t want to just eat a pile of cream. This resulted in a lukewarm cup of hot chocolate that Sophie decided was better than nothing.
As she sat and drank her hot chocolate, she watched people walk past the coffee shop. It was more just an area of the shopping centre, rather than an actual store. Only posts with ropes strung between them separated the seating area from the rest of the shopping centre. No one particularly interesting was walking by. Sophie was disappointed by this, but also pleased that no one she knew seemed to be hanging around. She was very much trying to avoid everything and everyone today. She congratulated herself on how well she was doing. If she carried on like this, she’d manage to avoid the entire planet.
She looked down at her cheesecake. It wasn’t as nice as it had seemed when it was sat behind the glass of the cabinet that contained the various cakes the shop offered. It was rather rich and sickly and wasn’t blending well with the hot chocolate in her stomach. She decided to leave most of it and set off towards the shops that filled the rest of the shopping centre. She needed some serious distracting before she had to get on with the business of the afternoon. She looked at her watch, it was about half 11. She probably didn’t need to be at the church until about 2, maybe even later. That gave her a good couple of hours here.
She spent most of her time wandering aimlessly from shop to shop, looking vaguely at anything that caught her eye. Nothing thrilled her enough to make her hand over any money. She tried on a few things, but decided they didn’t look as good on her as they did on the hanger. The best she’d found was a dress that she adored the style of, but was a size too big. The shop assistant told her that they could order it from another store and let her know when it was in.
Before she knew it, the time had flown by and it was time to catch the bus home. It was a quick journey and she spent most of it listening to music while staring vacantly out of the window. She wasn’t sure if she was dreading the meeting with Bob or looking forward to it. It would definitely be an experience, that was for sure.



{November 13, 2010}   NaNoWriMo 2010 – Day 13

Sophie lay awake. She was back in her own bed. She’d made sure to stay at James’ long enough that her parents would be in bed when she got home. She loved them dearly, but they always wanted to talk about things. She didn’t need that right now. Explaining things to herself was hard enough right now, she couldn’t even begin to explain anything to other people.
James had insisted on walking her home. She’d tried to argue, but he was having none of it. She had tried to point out that she lived only a few streets away and their neighbourhood consisted almost entirely of old people, but she’d been ignored. As they’d walked home, she’d done her best to hide her amusement at the thought of James trying to fend off an attacker. Thankfully, the only living being they’d seen on their walk home had been her neighbour’s Yorkshire terrier who was too busy digging up some flowers to pay attention to either of them.
Sophie looked at the clock. It was nearing 2am. She turned over and buried her face in her pillow, attempting to will herself to sleep. It was fairly useless. Her head was far too busy bursting with possibilities about tomorrow. Some of them were fairly preposterous, but a few genuinely worried her.
What worried her the most was the simple fact that Bob was actually her father. She shared genes with him. She balked at what that might mean for her future. She was pretty sure she wasn’t going to sprout an impressively mad beard, but the madness was a worry. Was he really mad, or just out of his time?
But then, what time was his? He had said that him and Sophie’s mother (her real one, current whereabouts unknown) had “arrived” about 3 million years ago. Was that true? Were her parents really around at the dawn of human civilisation? Maybe they even created it! That seemed unlikely though. Bob had spoken about being unsure if humans were around when they arrived, so it must just have been a coincidence.
And then a bigger question dawned on Sophie, where did they come from? Space? The future? Another dimension?! And did that mean they weren’t human? Was she human? Sophie sat up in bed. The day before yesterday, she had discovered her parents weren’t really her parents. Tomorrow she might discover that they weren’t even the same species as her. She wouldn’t be the same species as James either. Well, at least that might stop his romantic advances. Probably not though.
Sophie flicked on her bedside light. She was fully awake now and there was no chance of her getting any sleep. She glanced at the book on her bedside table, but dismissed it. There was no chance she’d be able to concentrate on that. She decided to head downstairs and get herself some food instead.
There was a full moon outside and it was shining through various windows, so there was no need for her to turn on any lights. She padded quietly down the stairs and into the kitchen, doing her best not to wake her parents, as she knew they were light sleepers. She pulled open the fridge, momentarily blinded by the light that shone from it, before recovering enough to be able to peruse what it contained.
There was a fair amount on offer, her mother having done the shopping the day before. Sophie was crouched in front of the fridge, trying to decide between a peach and a cherry yoghurt, when the security light in the back garden flicked on. It illuminated a rather scruffy fox that was padding across the porch. The fox stopped momentarily when the light came on, darting its head about, seemingly trying to discern where a threat might be coming from. it stopped when its eyes fell on Sophie. It looked at her through the glass of the patio door, its eyes staring into hers.
Sophie stood up and slowly walked to the patio door. The fox was watching her every move. She slowly turned the key to unlock it. the fox sat down, still watching. She did her best to silently turn the handle and open the door. the fox still hadn’t moved and she stepped out onto the porch towards it. Step by step, she moved closer to the fox, until she was close enough to reach out and touch it. She crouched down and looked into its eyes.
“You’re a fox.” she said.
The fox just looked at her.
“I don’t know why I was expecting you to talk.” Sophie sighed and looked away, “I suppose I’m just expecting the world to keep getting weirder. I think things being normal would be surprising to me right now.”
The fox put its paw on Sophie’s knee. She looked down at it and smiled.
“Would you like some food, Mr Fox?” Sophie asked. “Or Mrs Fox, I don’t really know about differences between Fox genders.”
The fox looked at her, opened its mouth and let its tongue hang out a bit. Sophie took this as some sort of indication that it would like some food. She walked back into the kitchen and opened the fridge once more. She wasn’t quite what foxes ate, so she just grabbed a few random slices of meat and threw them on a plate.
The fox was waiting when she went back outside. She put the plate down on the ground and she watched as it devoured the meat she’d brought it. She watched its coarse tongue licking the plate and wondered what her mother would say if she knew a fox had been licking one of her precious plates. She decided it was definitely best if she didn’t know. The fox finished and looked up at her. She thought that it looked a little like it was smiling, so she smiled back at it.
“Goodbye then, Mr –or Mrs– Fox.” Sophie stood up. “Maybe I’ll see you again some time. Though don’t always expect a meal.” Sophie nodded curtly to the Fox and headed back into the house. She shut and locked the door and headed back out of the kitchen and upstairs, leaving her yoghurt plans behind.
She walked into her room and headed quickly to her window, which looked out onto the back garden. The fox was gone and the porch was empty as usual. Sophie sighed and got back into bed. The encounter with the fox had cleared her mind somewhat she found herself suddenly realising how late it was and how tired she felt. She turned off the light, lay down, and pulled her duvet over her shoulders. She was asleep within minutes, dreaming of foxes. The ones in her dreams could talk and told her stories. She wouldn’t remember any of them when she woke up.



{November 10, 2010}   NaNoWriMo 2010 – Day 10

James was waiting on the swings. Him and Sophie had been friends since before they really knew there were differences between boys and girls. It would be an understatement to say that James had “a little bit” of a thing for her. Sophie was well aware of this and did her best to make sure it was kept in check. Though that didn’t stop her from accepting the ego boost his affections provided.
Sophie could see him as she walked across the grass. He was wearing his usual attire of an excess of baggy clothing that served to emphasise his small frame, rather than disguise it. She often teased him about such things, but he didn’t seem to wish to ever change. He was sat, moving gently back and forth, and dragging his feet along the ground. He turned as he heard he footsteps on the wood chippings of the playground.
“Hi, James.” Sophie smiled at him.
“Hi, Soph.” James beamed back at her behind his thick-cut, NHS glasses. “How’s life?”
“Exceptionally confusing.” Sophie slumped onto a swing next to him. She pushed off with her feet and began to swing in a slightly haphazard fashion. “Everything was so much less complicated when we were kids, wasn’t it?”
“I suppose so.” James looked thoughtful. “School was definitely a lot easier.”
Sophie gave him a look of endearment. “Yes. Yes it was. Families too.”
“Families are complicated?”
“Mine is. Well, it is now. I’m adopted, James.” She looked at him hopefully.
“Oh.” James’ face was offering no help. “Well, it’s nice to know, I suppose?”
Sophie sighed and went back to swinging.
“Do you know who your real parents are yet? I mean, your biological ones…”
“I’ve met my father. I don’t know what to think of him.”
“Why’s that?”
“Well, either he’s mad or the world is. And even then, I think he’s still at least a little bit mad.”
“I sometimes think my parents are a little bit mad. Mainly whenever they try and go on about sport.” James gave her a reassuring smile.
“Yeh, he’s not that kind of mad. He’s more of your ‘mad prophet’ kind of mad. Beard and robe and everything.”
“Oh dear.”
“I’m meeting up with him again tomorrow. I’m gonna try and make him make a bit more sense. And maybe I can learn a bit about my mother.”
“Why can’t you meet her? Oh, she’s not dead it she?” James did his best to make his face show concern, but the glasses rendered it a bit ineffectual.
“Not that I’m aware of.” Sophie stopped swinging. “She’s apparently gone off somewhere and he doesn’t know where. He thinks she’ll be coming back, but has no idea when. Hell, that could just be some sort of delusion of his. I wouldn’t be surprised if she were staying away from him as much as possible.”
“Oh come on, he can’t be that bad!”
“No, I suppose he’s not. But it’s a bit jarring, really. To find out one day that you’re adopted, and then to find out the next day that your real father is the sort of man you’d avoid in the bus station in case he tried to give you some sort of leaflet.”
“Can I help at all?”
Sophie smiled, “You can take my mind off all this. Take me back to yours, beat me at computer games, and feed me until I pass out.”
“Um, okay?” James always got a little bit nervous at the thought of having Sophie in his bedroom. His mother would never allow girls in his room, but Sophie wasn’t considered a “girl”. James’ mother had known Sophie longer than Sophie had known James and she’d always approved of her. Though she did share Sophie’s mother’s opinion about Sophie’s hair. Suddenly Sophie wondered if James’ mother had known about Sophie’s adoption. And did anyone else know?
This all kept Sophie rather quiet on the walk to James’ house (not that it was a particulaly long one). James didn’t press her to break her silence. He’d never been one for excessive talking anyway, and Sophie’s company was enough to keep him more than happy. He preferred to simply look at his feet as he walked, trying not to smile or blush too much.

James’ bedroom was a boy’s bedroom. The walls were covered in posters and almost every possible surface was covered in things no longer considered toys (as he was now too old for such things) but collectibles. James was a hoarder and could see no reason to get rid of something that might have a use one day. He had drawers full of things with broken or missing parts and spare parts for things that he no longer owned. He had a floor-to-ceiling bookcase that was full to bursting with well-thumbed paperbacks. Some of them he didn’t even like, but he kept them anyway, just in case he forgot how he felt about them and needed to find out again.
It was relatively tidy today. His mother had come in earlier in the day and picked up all the clothes that had lain littered about. She’d intended to clean it, as she’d done the rest of the house. Unfortunately, there was barely anything to clean, without resorting to a large scale rearrangement of items. She’d vacuumed the floor and left it at that.
Sophie was now sat on this dirt-free floor with a plate of cheese-on-toast that James’ mother had made for her when she’d told her that, no, she hadn’t had any dinner yet. James was busy setting up the game they were about to play. He handed a controller to Sophie and she held it with one hand, the other being occupied by a half-eaten slice of the cheese-on-toast.
The game began and Sophie continued eating, neglecting to move her character and concentrating her focus on hitting whatever attack buttons she felt like. James’ character was running and jumping all over the screen, but was barely managing to land a blow on Sophie. She managed to stifle a giggle as his character was knocked out and he turned to look at Sophie in disapproval. She nonchalantly chewed on the last bite of the slice and placed her now free hand on the controller.
James took the second round with ease as Sophie was trying to remember complicated button combinations she’d learnt when they’d last played this game. None of them seemed to work, so she turned back to her random button strategy for the last round. It was a close fought thing, but James just beat her. Sophie gave him a smile that was intended to make it seem like she’d let him win, but she knew it wasn’t true. Sophie got up and left him to play on his own for a bit while she ate her second slice of toast and inspected his bookcase.
“Surely you’ve read them all by now?” James asked, not looking up from his game.
“I have not!” Sophie replied, petulantly. “And anyway, you might have some new ones.”
“Not for a while now. I’ve mostly been getting stuff from the library or just re-reading old stuff.”
“Let me guess, Hitchhiker’s Guide for the millionth time?”
“They’re great books! And no, other stuff.”
“Maybe I should give them another read. I might be going on my own fantastical journey soon…”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, if Bob’s no help, that’s my new dad, by the way, I may have to go find my mother. No idea how I’d do that.”
“Well, couldn’t you just do a quick internet search for her? Everyone’s online in some for or another…”
“If she’s anything like Bob seems to think he is, she’s probably not going under her ‘real’ name any more. Hell, she might not even have a real name.”
“What?” James stopped what he was doing and looked round at her.
“It’s a long story that I don’t know the full details of yet.” Sophie lay down on James’ bed. “Bob seems to think he’s as old as the human race. And he said something vague about him and my mother having ‘arrived’ around then. Where they arrived from, I don’t know yet. I’m going to see him tomorrow, so I might be able to learn a bit more then. Or I’ll just come away even more confused.”
“Oh. That’s definitely very… hmmm.” James managed.
“Yes, it definitely is that.” Sophie rolled onto her side and looked at James. “Why have you gone all quiet?”
“There’s, um… there’s a girl in my bed.”
Sophie rolled her eyes. “I’m not in your bed, James, I’m on it. And you know full well it wouldn’t mean anything even if I were in it.”
“Yeh…” Jamie avoided her gaze. Sophie rolled her eyes once more and lamely threw a book at him. It caught him on the arm and James rubbed the imagined bruise as he blushed heavily.
Sophie sat up and swung her legs over the side of the bed. She stared down at her feet. “I just need a friend right now, James. Everything’s being complicated right now, can’t we just be simple?”
“Sorry.” James adjusted his glasses and smiled at her. “You’re my best friend, Soph, and I’m always here for you.”
“Thanks, Jim-Jams.” Sophie smiled back at him and watched him wince at the childhood nickname she’d given him long ago. “Now, what other food have you got? That cheese-on-toast was most certainly not enough to fill the gaping hole in my digestive system.”
“Your entire digestive is a gaping hole!” James teased. “A black hole, into which all snacks fall, never to be seen again! You know, when you went on holiday a while back, mum was still buying the same amount of food and she couldn’t understand why our cupboards were overflowing. It was because you hadn’t been round here raiding them for over a week!”
“Oh, shut your mouth and get me some cake, you silly boy.” Sophie stood up and pushed him out of the bedroom door towards the stairs.

Bob was searching his home, which was part of the church and yet wasn’t. To any normal human, it wasn’t there at all and most of the time, neither was Bob. To Bob, he was very annoyed by how often he had people being thoroughly bored in what was essentially his hallway.
He was searching for various diaries and personal effects that he would need for tomorrow. Sophie wanted to know the truth, which would mean he’d have to remember it all first. Oh, if only her mother were here! She’d remember it all. She’d always had such a good memory. Or at least it seemed as such. He’d let himself get old and he’d gotten forgetful. What was the point of remembering all these things that had no bearing on now? The price of eggs at the corner shop was worth remembering, the name of that Viking who’d gotten drunk and taken offence to Bob calling him a halfwit was not. Though he did remember old Oglaf, for some reason.
The diaries would have to do. Sophie’s mother had kept them while she had been here and she’d brought him a new one whenever she returned from her travels. He never read them. He’d been there for almost all of her original writings and he had no interest in anything new she had to say. He’d resolutely taken to just throwing them in a corner and forgetting about them. Right now, he was wishing it had always been the same corner.
A small grey cat sat and watched him at work. It mewed at him.
“Yes, Douglas, I had thought about that.” Bob said, in seeming reply.
The cat mewed once more.
“Well, I’ll tell her not to, won’t I?” He turned to face the cat and it cocked it’s head on one side, managing a marvellous look of withering skepticism. “Oh don’t look at me like that! She’s not going to want to go off looking for her. I mean, why would she? She’s a 16 year-old girl. They don’t do such things, do they? They sit and watch television and go to parties and court young men on that web-thing. 16 year-old girls do not go wandering off looking for mothers they’ve never met!”
The cat gave a final mew, before wandering off to the kitchen to find itself something to eat.
“The salmon in the fridge is not for you!” Bob called after it, knowing full well he would be ignored. He cursed his decision to endow Douglas with further intelligence than his normal cat-genes would have allowed. But then, he did serve as a decent sort of conscience. As long as the dilemma didn’t involve an outcome that would involve him getting fed, that is.
Bob went back to his searching and it wasn’t long before it bore fruit. He placed the two further diaries he’d found on the pile. The problem was, he wasn’t sure how many there actually were. She’d always managed to keep them fairly concise, he knew that. But even then, there was a lot of time to cover. And there’d be even more noteworthy events available to go into the more recent ones. He’d just have to search everywhere until there was nothing left to find. He looked at the vast expanse of mess and sagged at the prospect. There was no way he was going to get this all done before Sophie arrived tomorrow.
He decided a tea break was in order and retired to the kitchen. He found Douglas sat next to the kettle, with a plate before him and something a definite salmony pink hanging from his mouth.
“How you manage to do that without thumbs, I’ll never know.”
The cat gave him a smug grin and finished off the salmon. Bob opened a cupboard a pulled out a rather ancient looking mug. He hesitated a moment and turned to Douglas.
“A milky one for you, I assume?” The cat nodded and Bob grabbed a small tea cup from the same cupboard. He filled the kettle and put it on to boil and busied himself with putting tea bags in the mug and cup and adding sugar to his. He got the milk out of the fridge and set it down on the counter next to everything else. He pretended not to notice Douglas licking his lips as he did this.
The kettle boiled and Bob made the tea, making sure to make Douglas’ with about the same amount of milk as water. The tea bags were squeezed and went into the bin and the tea was stirred thoroughly before being taken back into what could vaguely be called the living room. Douglas followed along behind Bob and took up residence on the footrest, where he could easily reach his tea after Bob had set it down on the table.
Bob sipped his tea and vaguely stroked Douglas. “Do you think she’ll be happy with all this?”
Douglas mewed and lapped at his tea, making a face after discovering it was still a bit too hot.
“Me neither, old boy. To be honest, I really have no idea what she’ll think.” Bob sighed. “Maybe she’s just like her mother. Maybe she will go off to try and find her and these diaries will just encourage that. Maybe I’m just destined to not have a woman around this place.”
Douglas was too busy with his tea to give any sort of answer. Bob slurped at his and then looked puzzled.
“Oh, sod it all, I forgot to bring in the biscuits!”
Douglas watched him as he left the room and shook his head. He could tell what was going to happen and felt a bit sorry for Bob. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t excited at the prospect of tagging along on Sophie’s adventure. If she had one of course. But then, he was pretty sure she’d decide to. I mean, with his persuasion, why wouldn’t she?



{November 9, 2010}   NaNoWriMo 2010 – Day 9

Sophie awoke the next morning in a slightly more organised state than she had been in the previous day. She’d managed to go through her whole evening routine, so she awoke feeling refreshed, in pyjamas, and under her duvet. She headed downstairs, in search of cereal as usual. She didn’t bother to even think about getting dressed. The house was warm enough and there wasn’t going to be anyone about who counted as polite company. So she was very surprised when there was someone about.
Her parents were stood at the bottom of the stairs waiting for her.
“We heard you get up.” Her mother said.
“Shouldn’t you be at work?” Sophie managed in reply, through a haze of sleepiness, confusion and haphazard morning hair.
“We took the day off.” That was her father, looking serious. “Something important has come up.”
“Can’t it wait for a bit? Important things go better after a good breakfast, don’t they?”
“Um, I suppose so.” Her father ushered her into the kitchen. Sophie just stood around bewildered as a bowl of cereal was poured and thrust upon her.
“Milk?” She enquired. It was handed to her and she added it to her satisfaction, before putting it back in the fridge. She turned to head into the living room.
“Where are you going?” her mother demanded.
“To watch TV?”
“You can’t eat in the living room!”
“Why not? I usually do…” Sophie looked at them, the sleepiness was now virtually gone, but the confusion at their manner remained.
“Well, um…” her mother faltered for a reason and Sophie turned back to head into the living room, ignoring her mother’s protests.
“Hello.” said the figure sat in her living room.
“You’re in my spot on the sofa.” Sophie replied. “I want to sit there and eat my cereal in peace. With no crazy, bearded men stealing it from me.”
“Ah, yes. Sorry about yesterday. I think I handled all that a bit badly.”
“You couldn’t have handled it worse if you’d terrorized me with a knife. My seat?”
The figure rose apologetically and moved to the other sofa. Sophie sat down and began eating her cereal while she eyed the man suspiciously. Her parents remained standing just inside the doorway, not sure of what to do with themselves.
Sophie finished her cereal, dropped her spoon into her bowl, and cleared he throat before she spoke.
“So, who’s going to explain first?” she asked.
There was a lot of unsure noises from all three of her “parents” before her father finally spoke up.
“When we told you yesterday that you were adopted, there were a few parts that we left out.”
“Like him?” Sophie indicated the man sat on the other sofa.
“Yes.” her father went on, “Bob did get rather carried away there. He knew we would be telling you, you see, but he didn’t realised you were yet to learn the full story.”
“They were meant to contact me, but I sort of jumped the gun.” The man who Sophie’s father had identified as Bob put in.
“Right.” Sophie said. “But shouldn’t such things be handled through the adoption agency and suchlike? That’s how it usually happens on TV or whatever…”
“That is true.” Her father said, treading carefully with his words. “But it can’t really happen in our case.”
“Why not?”
“There wasn’t one.”
“Oh.” Sophie looked puzzled. She turned to Bob, “So you just handed me over?”
“Well, in a way, yes.” Bob said. “It was a bit more complicated, but it generally boils down to me asking your parents if they wanted you and them saying ‘yes’.”
Sophie looked at her parents. They gave her a pair of reassuring smiles. She looked at Bob. He gave her a thoughtful look, accented by crazy beard and slightly less crazy hair. Sophie looked at her feet.
“Why?”
“Ah,” Bob said, “That’s a slightly more complicated question. It’s all a bit tied up with where your mother is.”
“Don’t you mean, ‘who my mother is’?”
“Well, yes and no. Who your mother is, is the reason for where she is.”
“So where is she?”
“I don’t know.” Bob looked a little deflated.
“You don’t know?” Sophie was beginning to get annoyed.
“She’s been gone since you were born.” Bob began, “She only came back to have you, it was the first time I’d seen her in over a hundred years! And then she left again once you were born. She said you couldn’t go with her yet.”
“Wait, a hundred years?!”
“That’s right.”
“Ok… Moving on then, you said she’d be coming back for me?”
“Well, she didn’t specifically state that, but I assume so.”
“And I’m guessing you don’t know when that will be?”
“To be honest, no.” Bob looked deflated again. “It could be any time soon, or it could be another hundred years.”
“So, why did you give me away?”
“To stop her from taking you!”
“You gave me away, so… you didn’t have to give me away?”
“Exactly!” Bob looked vindicated, but it elicited a confused look from Sophie, so he elaborated a bit, “If I hid you here, she couldn’t come back and take you. But I would always know where you were.” He smiled at Sophie and then at her parents. “I left you in the hands of such good people.”
“Yes, you did.” Sophie smiled at her parents. She could see the tears they were trying to hold back. “So, why announce yourself now? Surely she could still return and take me away?”
“Ah, but you’re a woman now! You can make decisions! You can decide to stay!”
“But what if I didn’t decide to stay?”
“Oh.” Bob did that look again. “Would you do that?”
“I don’t know.” Sophie rubbed her forehead with her hand. This was all getting a little too much. “Let’s put that to one side for a moment. tell me more about you. Who are you?”
“I don’t know.”
Sophie almost hit him. “You don’t bloody know who you are?!”
“It’s been a very long time! I got old…” Bob was cowering back against the sofa now.
“How long?” Sophie looked at him shrewdly.
“Well, science seems to reckon it’s been a few million years. Personally, I don’t remember much before the Vikings…”
“Few… million… Vikings…” Sophie wasn’t quite sure what to say. “Are you trying to tell me you’ve been alive for the entirety of human history?”
“Give or take a bit. I’m not sure if we technically arrived till a bit after they did.”
“Arrived?”
“I’m not quite sure about that. Your mother can probably tell you some more about it.”
“If I ever meet her.”
“Oh, I’m sure you will. I mean, it’s not like either of you are going anywhere. You’ve got all the time in the world!”
“Wait, are you trying to tell me I’m immortal?”
“Well, obviously! You couldn’t be our daughter and not inherit some stuff.” Bob had a little satisfied grin on his face. Sophie sort of wanted to slap it off him. She turned to her parents, who gave her apologetic little smiles.
“So, this all makes perfect sense to you two?”
“Well,” her father began, “I know it all seems a bit far-fetched, but we’ve know Bob for years. Although he wasn’t always called Bob.”
“Wasn’t I? Oh no, I wasn’t, was I?”
“Yes, you were going by Joseph back when we first met you.”
“Oh my, yes! I’d had that one since the turn of the century. Can’t believe I didn’t get rid of it sooner. It seriously went out of vogue with the whole Stalin fiasco.”
Sophie sank back into the sofa, exasperated. Her mother (the normal one, not the one who was some kind of absentee, immortal being) came over and put her arm around her.
“I think this is all a bit much for her.” She said to the room at large. To Sophie, she said “Isn’t it dear?”
“Yes.” Sophie replied, weakly.
“Would you like a cup of tea?”
“Yes please, mum.” Sophie did a little smile, and was able to briefly forgot about the madness that was surrounding her and to instead just concentrate on her mother making her a cup of tea, just like she used to.
Her mother took tea orders from Bob and Sophie’s father as well and bustled into the kitchen. Sophie let herself sink into her own little world as Bob and her father sat and talked about “old times”. Her bubble was only briefly broken by her mother arriving back with the aforementioned cup of tea. She sat and drank it in silence, while madness whirled around her like a hurricane of crazy, bearded men and parents who were no longer what she had always thought them to be.

By the time she had finished her tea, she’d come to a decision. She put her cup firmly down on the coffee table, before remembering her mother’s insistence on using coasters and quickly put one between her mug and the table. She sat up and the conversation between Bob and her parents died away. They looked at her expectantly.
“I think I shall need some time to get to grips with this.” she said. “Bob, can I come to see you tomorrow? And maybe you could have a go at explaining all this a bit better?”
“Of course, my dear!” Bob replied. “When should I expect you?”
“Sometime in the afternoon. I think I’ll need a decent lie-in if I’m going to be listening to you babble for the rest of the day.”
“Sounds good to me. I’ll get a brew on.”
“Where do you live exactly?”
“The church.”
“Well, not exactly the church, but that’s the best place to turn up. Just arrive there and I’ll be with you in a jiffy.”
“I’m not even gonna bother to ask how you’ll know I’m there, that can be explained tomorrow.” Sophie looked to her parents, “Mum, dad, thank you for being my parents and for seemingly providing me with an upbringing away from someone I can only describe as mad. No offense, Bob.”
“Oh, none taken. I probably am a bit these days. Fashion’s always changing and sanity’s one of the hardest parts to keep up with. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m a bit behind the times.”
“Right.” Sophie gave Bob a look of pained bewilderment, before turning back to her parents. “I’m going out for a bit.” She glanced down at her pyjamas. “Well, as soon as I’ve had a shower and gotten dressed. I’m sure you can handle seeing Bob out.”
“It’s been lovely to properly meet you, Sophie.”
“Yes, Bob, I’m sure it has.” With that, she exited the room and made her way upstairs to drown her confusion in hot water and strawberry-scented shower gel.



{November 8, 2010}   NaNoWriMo 2010 – Day 8

The shops weren’t very far from Sophie’s house, little more than a few minutes walk. A very handy alleyway meant that journey was much shorter and more direct than it would have been otherwise. Upon exiting said alleyway and being confronted by the shops, Sophie undertook the decision of where to buy lunch. The small supermarket offered a more tasty line in sandwiches, but sorely lacked in areas such as choice of drinks and availability of smaller portions of chocolate or other sweets. The newsagents, on the other hand, could be relied upon to provide an overwhelming selection of drinks and chocolates, some of which you were sure must be made in a small factory somewhere in a country you’ve never heard of. Their sandwich selection, however, was far from appealing, usually containing ingredients either horrible by nature (such as egg) or by preparation (such as the bacon that had the texture of plastic and the taste of another type of plastic that had been somewhere near a pig).
The supermarket was a modest size, intended for emergency purchases, rather than regular shopping. It specialised in having a large selection, but offered little variety. Whatever product you wanted, it could provide, but you had little choice if you were dissatisfied with what it provided. Its range of sandwiches thankfully offered some variety. You even saved money if you bought a (very specific) drink and a packet of crisps at the same time. Sophie decided to push the boat out with a prawn mayonnaise sandwich, apple juice, and some plain crisps. She declined a plastic bag at the checkout and instead did her best to shove all but the sandwich in her jacket pockets.
She shielded her eyes from the glare of the sun as she stepped out of the supermarket and looked around for a suitable spot to have her lunch. She made her way towards the grounds of the village church, knowing there was a few benches there and they’d likely be unoccupied right now.
Sophie selected an appropriate bench that wasn’t in the shade, but had enough trees about that the sun wasn’t trying to blind her. She quietly sat and ate her lunch, watching the world pass by the gates to the church grounds. It struck as a perfect place to sit and contemplate things, but she wasn’t really in that sort of mood. She pulled a book from a pocket in her jacket (it had a lot of them and they were all fairly spacious, she’d purchased it about a year ago from an army surplus store) and set about reading it from where she’d left off the other day. She was about halfway through it now. It wasn’t due back at the library for about a week. She’d definitely have it read by then. The other four she’d taken out at the same time were still sitting unread in a pile on her dressing table. Those would have to be renewed.
Sophie was so engrossed in her book, that she didn’t notice the figure sit down on the spare section of bench beside her. What she did notice, was when he took one of her crisps.
“Hey!” She shouted, looking up from her book. The figure stopped, mid-chew, and tried to look at her with an expression of wide-eyed innocence. “Who the hell are you?”
The figure began to say something, before changing his mind and deciding to finish the crisp and carry on. Sophie looked at him sternly, studying his weathered features and rather impressive beard. Finally, he finished the crisp and coughed slightly.
“Hello.” He beamed at Sophie.
“Yes. Hello. Fancy answering the question?” Sophie had been taught not to talk to strangers, but annoyance at crisp-theft had gotten the better of her.
“I am… um…” The smile faded and he looked away as he fumbled with his words. “Oh, dang it, may as well be straight-forward. I am your father.” He looked at Sophie hopefully.
“Right.” Crisp-theft was forgotten now. Now she was just annoyed by this man in general. “And I’m just supposed to believe that, am I?”
“Well, that would probably make everything nice and easy, I suppose.” His eyebrows narrowed, “You’re not going to, are you?”
“No. I generally don’t take the word of crazy, old, bearded men as gospel.” Sophie closed her book and snatched up her crisps. She got up, pulled her jacket on in a defiant fashion, and stuffed her accoutrement back in their relevant pockets. Before she could walk away, the man got up and barred her way.
“You should though, you know. I’ve got evidence and such-like.”
“Really? Well, that would be nice to see.” Sophie stood there, looking at him skeptically.
“Well, erm… You see, I don’t have it on me…” He stammered a bit and patted what appeared to be some sort of grey robe that he was wearing. Sophie glanced down and noted that it was accented by a pair of brown leather sandals. No socks.
“Right then, I’m going.” She pushed away past this obviously crazy man and made her way in the direction of the entrance.
“Wait!” came the shout from behind her. Sophie had no intention of heeding the command and began to walk faster. The shout came again and she broke into a run. She shot through the entrance and bounded across the road, narrowly missing a car doing about 5 miles an hour. She vaulted a fence and found herself in the park. She didn’t bother with looking ‘round and set off running once more. She didn’t stop until she was on the other side of the park, hiding behind the ancient public toilets that always smelt of urine, yet were never open.
Sophie looked around herself, there were no crazy, bearded men anywhere to be seen (with the exception of the park warden, but he was always around). She leant against the wall of the public toilets, sweat streaming down her face and gasping for air. When she’d calmed down a little, she wandered over to one of the swings and sat down. She swung listlessly back and forth as she thought about what had just happened.
Surely that man wasn’t her father? Surely her parents would have prepared her for such a thing? But then why else would someone be saying such a thing to her, the day after she’d been told she was adopted? He couldn’t be her father. He was far too old, for one thing. Old people don’t give children up for adoption. It’s young, irresponsible people who do such things. Teenagers who get pregnant by accident, or spun-out drug addicts. He was just crazy.
Yes. He was definitely just a crazy old man. I mean, he had all the hallmarks! The beard, the robe, the sandals. And what kind of sane person would think that would be a good way to introduce themselves to their estranged child? Accost them in a public place and steal their crisps? She did always seem to attract the friendship of crazy people. Tramps often decided that she seemed like just the sort of person that would want to know about their collection of discarded bus tickets. Or there was that guy who worked at the butcher’s and would always wave and say hello to her when she passed his shop, even though she had never even been in there.
Sophie sat on the swing and thought. She was there for quite a while and it wasn’t until she noticed the sun beginning to slip towards the horizon that she realised just how long it had been. There was still no sign of the crazy man, but she thought it better to be safe than sorry, so she made her way home by a route that didn’t take her anywhere near the church.
Dinner was just being served when she got home. Her mother made comments about being worried about her and she mumbled about only having been ‘round the corner. Nothing more was said and Sophie hung her jacket up before taking her seat at the table.
“Did you have a nice time while you were out?” her mother asked.
“It was Ok.” There was a fairly long silence before Sophie realised she was being expected to elaborate. “Oh. I just sat by the church and read a bit. And then I went to the park.”
“Did you see anyone?” her father asked.
“Um, no?” Sophie pushed a fork around her plate before saying the next part. “Unless you count the crazy guy who said he was my father.” She pretended not to notice the looks that were exchanged between her parents. She instead filed them away in her mind for further consideration later. The rest of the meal took place mostly in polite silence, only broken by the odd comment about something trivial or a request for something to be passed.
Afterwards, Sophie headed for her room. The usual comment from her mother about being anti-social was notably absent as she ascended the stairs.

The figure watched Sophie run away and sighed. He turned around and walked back to the bench and sat down. He sighed once more and put his head in his hands. He’d messed it up. He knew he had. He should have waited. They were going to contact him and everything would be planned out and done carefully. But he couldn’t wait. He knew what day it had been yesterday, so her knew that they’d told her. And then she’d turned up at the church and it had just seemed so perfect.
Maybe the crisp was where it went wrong. Maybe that just started everything off on the wrong foot. It had been a tasty crisp though. He hadn’t had crisps for a fair few years. He wasn’t sure why that was. She wasn’t around, so why should he be worrying about his salt intake? That was what she used to do. Surely without her here he could do what he liked? No. He knew that she’d be back one day, so it payed to keep up the habits that would be enforced under her rule.
The figure leaned back on the bench and considered the day’s events. He considered it for a long time. Anyone watching would have been forgiven for thinking that he was a statue as he didn’t move and his breathing was slow and shallow enough that it could be mistaken for a trick of the light. He was used to taking his time when he thought about things and he had all the time in the world, so the rest of the world could busy itself with other things. He wasn’t a part of it right now, as far as he was concerned.
It was nightfall when he finally moved again. He’d come to a decision. He’d considered all available options and explored all possible causalities and this one seemed best. He would simply stick to the original plan and hope for the best. He frowned upon the realisation that he had come to a conclusion that was so simple and could possibly have been reached in about 5 minutes. But really, it was better to deliberate too long than to not give something enough thought.
He stood up and looked out at the night with purpose, his hands firmly placed upon his hips. He sagged slightly when he realised that his triumphant narrative was merely in his own head and no one was watching. The night was a bit chilly for a summer evening, probably best to head back inside and wait till tomorrow. He didn’t plan to sleep, he’d had enough of that back in 1993 when he’d been laid up with a cold and had decided to just stay in bed for the rest of the year. Since then, sleep was something he could do without. Barring the odd nap when he found himself at a loose end. Letting out a soft sigh, he turned and walked through the church wall.



{November 7, 2010}   NaNoWriMo 2010 – day 7

Sophie was 16 when she found out where she came from. Not all that sex stuff, she’d learnt that years ago, in a long discussion with her mum and from a book she’d given her (there’d also been lessons at school, but they’d involved so much blushing and stammering on the part of the teacher that it hadn’t been particularly informative). This time, she learnt that the people who she’d always thought to be her parents hadn’t been in involved in the sex act that had produced her.
It was the day of her birthday and they’d waited till all the food was eaten and the various relatives (or not, as it later turned out) had been ushered out of the door and to their waiting cars. Grandma was the last to go, having spent most of the time post-dinner snoozing on the sofa after one too many glasses of sherry (“one too many” being defined as the half a glass she’d managed before falling asleep). Sophie was attempting to disentangle her hair from the elastic of a cardboard party hat when her parents announced that they had something to tell her.
“You’re of an age now,” her mother had started off, “where you deserve to know certain things. You’ve grown up into a very sensible you girl –young woman– and… and..” That was as far as she got before the tears started. Her father sat down and put his hand on her mother’s knee and squeezed.
“What your mum’s trying to say,” Sophie turned to look at him with confusion in her eyes, still absently trying to free the last few strands of her hair from the hat elastic. “is that we’re very proud of you and we love you very much. You’re a wonderful daughter and we’re so happy you’re ours. Except technically… you’re not.”
“What? Ow!” Sophie hadn’t quite finished untangling her hair and the shock had caused her to pull the hat away, taking a fair few strands of hair with it. “So, I’m adopted?” she managed, after she recovered.
“Yes.” her father replied. “We thought it was about time you knew.”
“We still love you dearly!” her mother managed, between the tears.
“Very much so. You’re our daughter, regardless of your DNA.”
They were both looking at Sophie quite expectantly. She was quite unsure what to say. It had certainly been a shock, but it didn’t jar her mind quite as much they seemed to be expecting. She decided it was probably best to take some time to think. That would probably satisfy them.
“I love you guys too.” She gave them a big smile to emphasise that she meant it. “I think I’m gonna go up to my room. Have a little lie down and a think.”
“You do that, darling. Let us know if there’s anything you need or if you want to talk about anything.” her father smiled the way he always had, ever since she was a little girl, but now he wasn’t her father. Sophie wasn’t sure yet if that made a difference.

Sophie lay on her bed and listened to a CD she’d been bought for her birthday. She wasn’t sure if she liked it yet. She’d heard a song off it and loved it instantly, but all the others were leaving her sort of cold. Except that bit of guitar in the second song. She liked that.
She wondered about what to do. She was an adoptive child now. She’d seen this in movies and on TV. Where adoptive children meet up with their biological parents and hear the tragic stories of why they had to give up “their own flesh and blood”. And they suddenly find out that they’re like clones of these parents they never knew. They discover why they’d never fit in at home. Why they loved certain things that their parents couldn’t understand.
Sophie couldn’t see that happening. It wasn’t that her parents always saw eye-to-eye with her, just that she was far from being the proverbial “square peg”. They didn’t always understand things she was into (her style for one thing was often frowned upon. She couldn’t count the number of times her mother had berated her for dying her “lovely blonde hair” pink) but there were still many things the connected on. Her father loved to read and so did she. Her mother played the piano and she was well on her way (and practicing like mad to try and live up to her mother’s talent). The 16 years of her life (give or take however long it was before they adopted her) that she’d spent being their daughter was not something she could easily dismiss.
Sophie sat up and looked around her room. You couldn’t really see the walls any more, as she’d done her best to obscure the pinkness of them with posters. She looked at the dressing table she’d had all her life. The same dressing table that had belonged to her mother, that still had a few fading stickers on the mirror, announcing her mother’s love for various bands that Sophie had never heard of. She clambered off the bed and went to sit at the dressing table.
Sophie looked at herself in the mirror, examining her features and mentally comparing them to those of her parents. There were obviously dissimilarities, seeing as she didn’t have her father’s moustasche and neither of her parents wore as much mascara as she did (though there was that picture she’d found of her mother on the way to a Siouxsie and The Banshees gig. That thought made her smile). She thought about her naturally blonde hair and compared it to the mousey brown hair of her father, or the deep brown, almost black, hair of her mother. She looked into her blue eyes that paled to grey at the centre and about the two pairs of brown eyes that her parents owned. Her nose was fairly pointed like her mother’s and they had similar sized ears, all 4 being quite small and usually obscured by their hair. her father’s nose and ears were fairly large and rounded. The only hair that covered his ears tended to be growing out of it.
Her mother had trouble keeping weight off and indulged in various gym sessions and diet routines to keep herself in shape. Sophie found herself naturally thin, no matter what she ate or how many Saturdays she spent on the sofa watching cartoons in her pyjamas. Her mother often told her how she’d miss it when her metabolism slowed down and she’d have to work to be thin. Sophie wasn’t so sure. She’d happily carry the burden of the extra weight if it meant she found her way free of the A cup she’d been trapped in since hitting puberty. Boys complaining about her “bony arse” when she sat on their lap was also something she wouldn’t miss.
The CD had looped round again and that guitar bit came back. Sophie smiled and picked a chocolate out of one of the boxes she’d received for her birthday. She munched it thoughtfully and then spat it into the bin in disgust. She didn’t not like Brazil nuts. The next few chocolates went down better. Sophie made herself stop when she’d eaten half a tray of chocolates, replacing the lid of the box firmly and telling herself she couldn’t have any more. At least until she stopped feeling ever-so-slightly sick.
Sophie wondered what her parents were doing. Maybe they were talking about her. Or they could be carrying on like any other night, her father reading either the newspaper or a book, while her mother watched something he didn’t care for on the TV. She considered going down to see, but she hesitated at the thought that they might want her to talk about things. She still wasn’t sure she had anything to say. She wanted to learn more about where she came from, but surely that was a decision that was meant to take a while? Everyone in fiction seemed to think about things for a few days before announcing out of the blue that they wanted to know their “real” parents.
But this wasn’t fiction. She hadn’t been angry at her parents when they told her. She hadn’t flown into a rage because of their “lies”. What were they meant to do, throw it at the end of every sentence? “What do you want for breakfast, adoptive daughter of mine?” She sincerely doubted that would work. They’d done what they were meant to do, be her parents. And that was something she’d chosen to do. Which was more than she could say for those that had created her. So, was she angry at them? Sophie wasn’t sure. She didn’t know them and they didn’t know her. She couldn’t even begin to imagine their reasons for giving her up, so why should she be mad when she had yet to know everything?
It wasn’t even that it hadn’t sunk in yet. It just seemed sensible to not be mad. She couldn’t be mad at the parents she’d been raised by, as they’d done nothing but good. And she couldn’t be mad at people she didn’t know for something she was yet to understand. So why not just carry on as usual? She sarcastically congratulated herself on only being 16 and already being so grown-up. She heard her mother’s voice in her head saying “despite certain… indiscretions, Sophie’s a very practical and sensible girl.” Sophie smiled at herself in the mirror and brushed several strands of one of her “indiscretions” behind her left ear.

Sophie woke up the next morning to an empty house. She found herself fully clothed and lacking a duvet. The CD was still playing in her stereo. She got up and turned it off. She then picked up the duvet that she’d almost got her feet caught in and put it back on the bed. She thought about making the bed properly, but decided against it. making the bed was for days where her mother might see it.
She headed downstairs and into the kitchen, on a quest for cereal. There was a note stuck to the fridge with a magnet, depicting some region of Spain an aunt had visited at some point (Sophie couldn’t care less about the who, where, and why of such things right now). The note was from her mother and told of how they hadn’t wanted to wake her and they hoped she was Ok and other such things. Sophie wasn’t so interested in those bits. Her attention was drawn by the ending, which stated that her mother had yet to do the shopping, so there was money by the front door for Sophie to go and buy herself something for lunch.
Sophie was pleased to discover that this lack of food didn’t seem to apply to cereal, so she happily poured herself a large bowl of supermarket own brand frosted corn something-or-others and topped it off with the last of the milk. She crunched her way through a spoonful as she made her way to the living room.
Turning on the TV announced to her that it was actually past midday and so the bowl of cereal counted as lunch. She dismissed such silliness and planned a later lunch consisting of something from one of the shops ‘round the corner. It might even contain something vaguely healthy, as her birthday had supplied her with enough chocolatey goodness to last her for maybe a few weeks, if she were sensible. A few days if she decided to be otherwise.
The TV wasn’t offering much in the way of decent entertainment, so she eventually turned it off. Monday lunchtime was not exactly peak time for interesting viewing. Sophie sarcastically cursed it being the summer holidays. She’d have something to do, even if it were only school. She looked out of the window to check the weather. It was a fairly nice day, maybe she could go for a walk as part of her trip to get some lunch. She finished her cereal and slurped the remaining milk from the bowl. It tasted sugary and sweet. She took the bowl and spoon back to the kitchen and placed them in the vicinity of the sink, waiting to be washed by someone who wasn’t her. She headed out of the kitchen and towards the door, grabbing her jacket from the peg and the money from beside the telephone. She stepped out into a pleasantly cool breeze and shut the door behind her. She fumbled with her keys somewhat before finding the right one and locking the second lock that kept the place safe. She was perfectly warm without the jacket on, so she just folded it over her arm and set off.



{November 6, 2010}   NaNoWriMo 2010 – Day 6

Yeh, it was my day off and I failed to write anything. Attempt to catch up tomorrow!



{November 6, 2010}   NaNoWriMo 2010 – Day 5

George stared out of the window. He was watching the birds. He liked the birds. He often wished he could fly. He’d been told off when he’d attempted it. He looked down at the cast on his leg, he’d try again when it came off. It was quite windy outside and the birds were getting blown about a bit. They looked quite funny. George smiled at them.
“Are you hungry, George?”
“No!” George replied petulantly. “Go away, Barbara!”
“Are you sure?” she persisted. George refused to answer. “I’ll just leave your dinner here then. Don’t let it get cold.”
George waited for her to leave before he turned around to look at his dinner. It didn’t look tasty. The hospital food never looked tasty. The vegetables were all soggy and the gravy was only the merest hint of brown. He didn’t want it. He wanted chips. They never gave him chips.
He snatched up the desert bowl and greedily spooned the sponge cake and custard contained within into his mouth. He always ate the cake. The birds could have the rest. He’d empty the plate out of the window in a minute. He wondered if being a bird would mean he wouldn’t be allowed cake anymore. Maybe being a person was better. Even if you couldn’t fly.
When George slept, he dreamt of being the president, just like his father. He dreamt of standing and making speeches in a suit. He dreamt of travelling. He dreamt of what he could make people do. He’d be the one making the laws. He’d be the one in charge. George liked that idea. He could even tell his brothers what to do! They’d stop teasing him and calling him stupid! He’d show them. He’d show them all. He’d show them what a good job he could do of being president. He’d do it so well, they’d make him president of everywhere. Not just America, but the whole world!
George also dreamt of flying. He dreamt that he flew with the birds, but he was a person. He taunted the birds because he was allowed cake and they weren’t. The birds didn’t like this. They tried to attack him and take his cake, but he was too quick and he flew away from them. He flew away and sat on a cloud and ate his cake and laughed at the silly birds who couldn’t have any. He was still laughing when Barbara woke him the next morning. The birds hadn’t wanted his dinner and he was told off for not eating it. He’d show her.

This is where I was born. Well, not exactly here, but this is the time I was born in. This is where I started out. My birth is six months and a few miles away. This currently featureless piece of land is destined for something grander than my mere body. This is where I shall do my work. The work that I am destined to do that shall eventually bring my parents back here to birth me.
I’ll start again, I am One. This isn’t quite my story. This isn’t particularly anyone’s story. It jumps about a bit and it’s hard to keep track of. This is the story of how I happened, so I am absent for most of it. It’s an odd thing, to have a hand in one’s own creation. As the year’s wore on, I often wondered how it might be if I took steps to undo myself. I was never satisfied with an answer, so I instead chose to let myself happen.

Robin was slightly shocked when the male version of herself asked her out to dinner. Or at least she feigned shock. She had been expecting it, even somewhat encouraging such a suggestion. She also feigned hesitation and let him push her and persuade her. Letting him take the rope she was handing him. But at the back of her mind, she had the thought that he was merely putting it aside. It was not something he was concerned with. What concerned her more was that her end was gradually fraying and would be no use when the moment came.
He suggested a benefits trip; using work resources to go somewhere that was beyond imagination in either of their worlds. He was pulling out the big guns. Someone had tipped him off to a world weir the culinary sciences had been placed above all others. A world where the majority of the population were hideously obese for the simple reason that they lived in a world where the food was always irresistible. It stimulated the tastebuds in ways that people of their worlds didn’t have words for.
She eventually gracefully accepted and they set a date. She wondered what else he might have planned. She made jokes to herself about a hotel room booked and a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door. She didn’t laugh at those jokes.

“You look like her, you know.”
“Look like who?” Katherine could smell the alcohol on his breath and pulled away as he leaned in to her.
“Robin.” Robin looked down at his feet, disheartened by her reaction to him.
“Aren’t you Robin?”
“The other one! The other me! That’s not me…” He looked up at her and his eyes were pleading now. “You’re younger though. Younger than her. And me. How old are you?”
“Um, 19…” Katherine pulled at the hem of her top. She was very conscious now that she had taken her boots off. She didn’t feel safe with her boots off.
“19…” He repeated, looking down at his feet again. “It’ll do. You’re not just like her, but you’ll do.”
“What?” He’d mumbled the last part and Katherine hadn’t heard him.
“You’re not her.”
“I’m sorry?” Katherine wasn’t sure what to do. She had the urge to run, but he was between her and the door. She couldn’t run without her boots, could she?
“It’s Ok. You’ll do. Come here.”
Katherine sat down beside him. She tried not to sit too close.
“Why are you so far away?”
“I… I think I’ve made a mistake. I don’t want this.” She tried to grab her boots, but he grabbed her arms and pulled her to him.
“No!” he shouted in her face. “No! You’re not leaving again!”
“I don’t even know you!” Katherine screamed back. “Let me go! I’m not your other Robin! I’m nobody! I’m not who you want!”
“But you’ll do!” He pulled her towards him and kissed her. She could taste the alcohol on his tongue. She felt him fall into the kiss and his grip on her arms lessened. She bit down on his tongue.
He pulled back, letting her go and clutching at his mouth. She spat blood on the floor and turned and grabbed her boots.
When she turned back, he was trying to grab at her again, drooling blood. In one swift motion, she swung the boots round and a steel toe connected with his temple. His arms dropped, more blood drooled from his mouth, and he fell backwards. Katherine pushed her way past and pulled open the door. She didn’t stop running until she was a few streets away. She stopped and leaned against a lamppost. She panted and pulled gravel from her feet before putting her boots back on. She was safe now. She let out the tears that had been threatening to pour out for the last few minutes. They wouldn’t stop for another hour.



et cetera